The Weekly Wonk: An achievable step towards justice for all; Progress towards hunger-free schools; & more

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

This week on the OK Policy Blog, Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler argued that ending money bail would be an achievable step towards justice for all. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam heralded Tulsa Public Schools’ decision to adopt a program to serve breakfast and lunch to all elementary students free of charge.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that until lawmakers adequately fund higher education, Oklahoma will be less prosperous. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update explained how a recent water deal between the Choctaw and Cherokee nations and the state of Oklahoma could resolve longstanding water disputes. We announced our Fall Policy Boot Camps in Tulsa and Edmond (details below).

Upcoming Opportunities

OK Policy in the News

The Enid News cited OK Policy data in a discussion of school funding. The Woodward News quoted Blatt in an article on state trooper pay increases.

Weekly What’s That

Tax base

The number of people, the kind of property, or the types of goods and services to which a tax is applied.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“If we would focus on (mental illness), and if we would — as Benjamin Franklin said, use an ounce of prevention for a pound of cure — we could save money. We could save millions of dollars in the long run. To me, it’s relatively simple. We just have to do it.”

– Cathy Costello, widow of slain Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, who was killed one year ago by their son, Christian. The Costello family had spent nearly a decade trying to locate treatment for Christian’s paranoid schizophrenia (Source

Editorial of the Week

Rev. Tre Clark, NewsOK

I’m tired of our kids walking into schools where teachers come and go due to chronically low pay. I’m tired of trying to convince kids that staying in school is worth it when their textbooks are outdated and falling apart, when their classrooms lack basic resources, and when their teachers leave in the middle of the school year.

Why would they think their education is valuable when it seems that no one else thinks so? City leaders tell us that Oklahoma City is “a city on the move.” In many respects this is true. When it comes to our children’s education, we are moving in the wrong direction. What does it say about our culture as a state and as a city if that success doesn’t include pulling our schools from the bottom of the heap in teacher pay and per-pupil spending?

Numbers of the Day

  • 18th – Rank of Oklahoma City out of the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas for the percentage facing food hardship (2014). Tulsa was ranked 24th
  • 67% – How much teachers earn in Oklahoma compared to other college graduates in the state, the 6th lowest percentage in the nation
  • 665.8 trillion – BTUs of natural gas used by Oklahomans in 2013
  • 204 – The number of Oklahoma preschool students who were suspended in the 2011-12 school year
  • 82% – Percentage of those who died from opioid overdoses in Oklahoma who were white, non-Hispanic in 2014. White, non-Hispanic Oklahomans are 66.5% of the state’s population.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • The Astounding Collapse of American Bus Ridership [Slate]
  • Why public defenders are less likely to become judges—and why that matters [Fusion]
  • The Effects of the Massachusetts Health Reform on Household Financial Distress [American Economic Association]
  • In La. and Ky. Shifts on Medicaid Expansion, a Reminder of Governors’ Power in Health Care [Wall Street Journal]
  • Higher Minimum Wages Lead to Healthier Newborns, According to Two New Studies [Slate]


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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